This preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.
Unformatted text preview: he World and the Flesh have failed us; a third Power
remains. And success of this third kind is the most glorious of all. A spoiled saint, a Pharisee, an inquisitor, or a
magician, makes better sport in Hell than a mere common tyrant or debauchee.
Looking round your patient's new friends I find that the best point of attack would be the border-line between theology
and politics. Several of his new friends are very much alive to the social implications of their religion. That, in itself, is
a bad thing; but good can be made out of it.
You will find that a good many Christian-political writers think that Christianity began going wrong, and departing
from the doctrine of its Founder, at a very early stage. Now this idea must be used by us to encourage once again the
conception of a "historical Jesus" to be found by clearing away later "accretions and perversions" and then to be
contrasted with the whole Christian tradition. In the last generation we promoted the construction of such a "historical
Jesus" on liberal and humanitarian lines; we are now putting forward a new "historical Jesus" on Marxian, catastrophic,
and revolutionary lines. The advantages of these constructions, which we intend to change every thirty years or so, are
manifold. In the first place they all tend to direct men's devotion to something which does not exist, for each "historical
Jesus" is unhistorical. The documents say what they say and cannot be added to; each new "historical Jesus" therefore
has to be got out of them by suppression at one point and exaggeration at another, and by that sort of guessing (brilliant
is the adjective we teach humans to apply to it) on which no one would risk ten shillings in ordinary life, but which is
enough to produce a crop of new Napoleons, new Shakespeares, and new Swifts, in every publisher's autumn list. In the
second place, all such constructions place the importance of their Historical Jesus in some peculiar theory He is
supposed to have promulgated. He has to be a "great man" in the modern sense of the word—one standing at the
terminus of some centrifugal and unbalanced line of thought—a crank vending a panacea. We thus distract men's minds
from Who He is, and what He did. We first make Him solely a teacher, and then conceal the very substantial agreement
between His teachings and those of all other great moral teachers. For humans must not be allowed to notice that all
great moralists are sent by the Enemy not to inform men but to remind them, to restate the primeval moral platitudes
against our continual concealment of them. We make the Sophists: He raises up a Socrates to answer them. Our third
aim is, by these constructions, to destroy the devotional life. For the real presence of the Enemy, otherwise experienced
by men in prayer and sacrament, we substitute a merely probable, remote, shadowy, and uncouth figure, one who spoke
a strange language and died a long time ago. Such an object cannot in fact be worshipped. Instead of the Creator adored
by its creatur...
View Full Document
- Spring '07